Friday, December 23, 2011

Cinnamon Monkey Bread

There is nothing sweeter than waking up to the sweet smell of cinnamon and brown sugar baking. The only thing that makes this morning treat better is coffee. I better get to the coffee before the kids. My brats love coffee. Yes coffee. And they aren't short so that threat that it would stunt my growth was just a threat so I wouldn't drink the coffee. But my brats grew smart to that threat very early. The Fireman's granny would give the grand-kids warm sugary milk mixed with coffee. Now both are hooked.

Monkey bread was always a favorite in our home as a kid. My grandmother would make two versions, one being this cinnamon role version and the other was a cheese version. Both are comfort food to the max.

This is by no means an original recipe as I am sure every family has made this at one time or another.

Cinnamon Monkey Bread

1 package of frozen bread dough
1 1/2 c. brown sugar not packed
3 TB cinnamon (more can be added if you like it stronger tasting)
3/4 c. butter (butter is preferred. I love butter.)
1/2 cup of raisins (optional my kids HATE and hate is a strong word)
1/2 cup pecans (again optional but will never grace mine as long as the brats have a say)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place rack in center.
Take the dough out of the freezer and either place in the refrigerator over night or place on the counter for two hours to thaw.
Cut all the biscuits into quarters. You can use scissors or knife. Whatever you are most comfortable with. I use scissors.
Place the melted butter in one bowl and the cinnamon and sugar in another. Grease a bundt pan. I like to butter it. But again, my spare parts don't need it so I'm using Pam. Pam the begeezus out of it. Roll each piece of dough in butter and then roll into the sugar mixture. Place into the bundt pan.
If your family is tolerant, sprinkle half the raisins and pecans. Notice I do not have any. The fight isn't worth it. So I just keep adding the dough to the pan resisting the urge to ACCIDENTALLY dip your fingers in the sugar or to lip them clean.
Let dough rise for an hour in a warm area with a towel covering it.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. My oven is a dinosaur so check and cook u till done.
Let cool 10 minutes and then turn out onto a plate.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Twice Baked Potatoes

I can't pass up potatoes. It's impossible. You've seen the movie "Forrest Gump" remember the scene where Bubba is telling all the ways he knows to prepare shrimp? That's me with potatoes!! In fact, for me, the best piece of meat is second fiddle to potatoes.

There is art for Twice Baked Potatoes. I like the skin to be crispy and salted and peppered. I want the flesh to be fluffy, loaded with goodies. Re baked with cheese, sour cream and bacon.

Twice Baked Potatoes are made on holidays or special occasion in our family. Not because they are hard to make, because they aren't, but because they are time consuming. They are an act of love. One that I promise your family will appreciate!

Twice Baked Potatoes
6 Monster Potatoes (scrubbed clean and dry)
1 1/2 cups of cheddar cheese
1/2 cup of sour cream
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
6 pieces thick bacon
garlic powder

Start with six medium sized potatoes. Scrub (seriously! Dirt has not place in this recipe) and dry with paper towels.

Place on a cookie sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil. Just a little!

Get your hands in there and oil those taters up! Don't be afraid! Have I mentioned olive oil is a great moisturizer? It's great for your cuticles, or at least that's what my Gram said! And she was the wisest woman I know!

Now Sprinkle with Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Get both sides!

Bake 400 degrees until you can pierce with a knife. About two hours in my dinosaur of an oven.

I know they are hot! But carefully cut off the tops of the taters. Sometimes I buy the extra large potatoes, and then I split them down the middle long ways. But these are kinda small. Save those tops! Those are a late night snack for a bunch of hungry teenagers! (just sprinkle some cheese on them and watch them disappear!)

In a large mixing bowl, dump one stick of butter. I know it's a lot but if you are looking for a low fat blog, this isn't it!! You work out!!! Dump that butter! It's going to six potatoes! Now carefully spoon out the inside of the potatoes and dump the flesh into the mixing bowl. Careful not to break the skin!

Add to the bowl now 1 1/2 cups of cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup of sour cream. 1/2 tsp kosher salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and 1/2 tsp garlic powder. Mind you, I dont measure any of this. The cheese is two big handfuls and the spices are second nature. So make sure you taste your food as you go along.

Re-stuff the potatoes. Carefully! They will be very full! Hey! I forgot something! BACON!! Oh noooo!!!

In case you don't know the easiest and best way to cook bacon, let me go over it. For this recipe you will need 5 pieces of bacon. Take a cookie sheet and non stick rack. Place bacon on the rack.

The grease will drip down. Less fattening! And you didn't have to stand over a pan that was spitting bacon fat at you! Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until cooked perfect.

Keep an eye on it. You can burn it easily! Transfer bacon to paper towels and break up into bite size pieces.

So normally you all the bacon to the bowl but I forgot! So it is on top! Oops!

Cover the potatoes with 1/2 cup of cheese.

Re-bake in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes at the most. You are just warming and melting the cheese. So keep an eye on them.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Consume Rice

As a teenager if there was an occasion, be it Christmas or a fancy dinner, this was the rice or side dish that was served. And now that I know how to make it, I don't know why. Well, it is rich and oh so good. But not hard to make. I always eat way too much of it. When I make it, I make a huge batch. I put everything but the kitchen sink in it. I chop the veggies as small as my excellent knife skills allow so my picky child never knows that there is anything resembling a mushroom in it. The Beef Consume makes the rice so don't substitute it for beef broth, for you wont get the same results. Try it one night and it will become a favorite. We make it every Christmas alone with any other occasion.

Consume Rice
1 small onion diced
4 cloves garlic minced
1 cup diced portabello mushrooms.
1 green onion diced
1 can Campbell's Beef Consume Soup
1/2 can of water
2 cups Minute Rice Brown Rice (white works too)
2 TB butter separated

you wont need much butter. My dad makes it with just about the whole stick. Not necessary. Start with a TB
Melt in a saute pan
Add your dry rice and start toasting till brown. This really changes the flavor of the rice in the long run. It gives it a nutty flavor
While rice is browning. Dice up the baby portabella mushrooms. I get them as small as possible so the mushroom hating kids wont know they are in the rice
You only need about half a container or a cup diced
Now the rice is nice a brown. Add the rice to your baking dish
Add one more TB of butter to the hot pan and melt
add onions and mushroonms
Once the onions and mushrooms are cooked add one green onion that is diced. I split it down the stalk long ways and then slice
Add to the pan with the garlic
measure out your liquid so you are equal parts rice to liquid. For me it is one can of consume and one half can of water
Now your veggies are perfect. Doesn't the smell just kill you??
Add the veggies to the baking pan
add the liquid. Really this has only taken about 10 minutes to make. Its just that easy
Pop into a preheated 350 oven . Cook covered for one hour
I like when the sides and bottom get toasty brown, but if you dont then keep an eye on it in the oven and adjust your time

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Eggnog Cake

This was introduced to me about ten years ago. It is so easy to make. It uses a box cake mix which we all know makes me happy. I make this around the holidays when making goody boxes or plates for friends. You could put a simple glaze on top and serve for dessert. I am not topping with anything so I can slice and place in gift boxes. This is one of those recipes you put away for your baking season. It also happens to be one of my favorites. I don't know if it is the brandy which takes me back to a rum cake my Gram would make or if it is the spice. Love it so much! Hope you enjoy it too.
In a bowl dump the following;
1 package yellow cake mix
1 package instant vanilla pudding mix (I used the large but small works fine)
4 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup Brandy (yep! or Rum if Brandy is unavailable...giggles)
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
Mix for 5 minutes
Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan. Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 50 minutes.

Let cool completely before trying to remove from the pan.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cocktail Weenies

I love these. I love these too much, and fortunately these are too easy to make. I will toss these together and refrigerate until the day of whatever party we are having. Appetizers always hold a special place in my family. Every holiday, we always have our big meal later in the evening so we can snack all day on the appetizers.

Cocktail Weenies
1 package of Cocktail Weenies
1/2 cup of grape jelly
1/2 cup of BBQ sauce
4 TB Hot sauce

Mix the grape jelly, BBQ sauce and hot sauce together and mix with the sausages. Bake 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Serve with toothpicks.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Twice Baked Mashed Potatoes

The Fireman calls these"Holiday Potatoes." They are basically your favorite mashed potato recipe that are piled into a baking pan and topped with more cheese and bread crumbs only to be baked until golden brown. I like them because you can make this ahead of time, say in the morning and then pop them into the oven thirty minutes before you are planning on serving dinner. I do tend to only make these around the Holidays. These would be great for a potluck though. They are still yummy with gravy over them or on their own.

Twice Baked Mashed Potatoes

First thing, you need to roast some garlic. I roasted the garlic the night before. You need to two heads of garlic. (I am roasting four heads for two different recipes) Lob off the top. I like to use a huge serrated knife. Stick the garlic on some tin foil and cover with olive oil.
Wrap up tightlyBake in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes. When you take it out, it's all soft and gooey.Let it cool until you can handle it with you hands. Squeeze the garlic out of the bulb. I am placing into a plastic container for the night.I also take a fork to it so its all pureed so to speak.I have a lot of garlic here. Half will be used in the mashed potatoes and the the other half is getting smeared on a standing rib roast. Try to resist using on a piece of french bread with butter.

Cut up about ten potatoes and boil in salted water until fork tender. Drain and return to the pot they cooked in.
Add 1 stick of butter
1/2 cup sour cup of sour cream
1/2 to 3/4 cup of cream or milk
roasted garlic
1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

See the two piles? One is for the topping. I always freshly grate the Parmesan. It makes a big difference in taste and texture. Mash until smooth. You could take a mixer to it. Personally, my family doesn't care it it is perfectly smooth.
Take the mashed potatoes and spoon into a baking dish
Now in a bowl combine 3/4 cup bread crumbs with 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese and 1 TB melted butter
Top on the mash potatoes and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

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